January 7, 2005
Last months devastating tsunamis
in Southeast Asia are perhaps the worst natural disaster in
a generation. Said to have killed at least 150,000, the massive
waves have also left upwards of a million homeless, and presented
an almost unprecedented rebuilding challenge. Disaster-affected
buildings range from poorly-constructed slum houses to important
civic buildings to architectural and archaeological treasures.
While countries around the world are providing substantial
monetary aid (the United States has pledged over $350) and
resources, and organizations like the Red Cross, Unicef, and
the United Nations are providing emergency assistance, an
impressive list of organizations are also offering shelter
and rebuilding aid, pledging money, as well as architectural
and engineering expertise. Such entities include:
Architecture for Humanity, which organizes architectural
services for humanitarian crises, is soliciting funds and
services to aid much-needed reconstruction in the region.
Money will help develop long-term housing designs and strategies
that will, according to AFO Chairman Cameron Sinclair, be
highly sustainable and intelligently planned. Possible strategies
include use of local materials like thatch, straw-bale, stone,
and even recycled shipping containers, although none have
been chosen. Without the help of architects and construction,
Sinclair adds, such housing can often take the form of temporary
refugee camps that turn into poorly-planned, unsanitary, and
wasteful permanent housing.
Architects can contribute money or lend their services through
the organizations website, www.architectureforhumanity.org,
or through partner organization www.worldchanging.org . AFH
is coordinating with larger local NGOs such as Relief
International and the International Medical Corps, and is
in discussions with several others.
Shelter For Life International (SFL), a humanitarian relief
and development organization, has been helping rebuild communities
affected by civil conflict in Sri Lanka since 1999. With 25
years of experience in providing shelter for families around
the world displaced by conflict or natural disaster, SFL offers
safe, functional shelter and assistance for those left homeless
in Sri Lanka. In response to the present crisis, SFL is targeting
to assist 10, 000 families, some 50,000 people, whose homes
were destroyed by the tsunami with water, sanitation and temporary
shelter. These families will also be provided with emergency
supply kits that include critical supplies for water storage,
hygiene, cooking and other basic living requirements. The
current target area is a stretch of 50 km coastal line, south
of the capital Colombo.
RI provides emergency, rehabilitation and development services
that empower beneficiaries in the process. RIs programs
include health, shelter construction, education, community
development, agriculture, food, income-generation, and conflict
resolution. RI employs an innovative approach to program design
and a high quality of implementation performance in demonstrating
deep and lasting impact in reducing human suffering worldwide.
The organization has dispatched a team that is providing medical
care to victims in Sri Lanka, and plans to help victims with
both emergency relief as well as long-term restoration of
livelihoods and community rebuilding.
This New Jersey company produces temporary shelters for emergency
situations. The structures are produced from a treated corrugated
laminate that is waterproof and infused with a fire retardant,
the GV shelter has a footprint of sixty-seven square feet
and is equipped with a hinged door made of corrugated PP material.
The company is working together with Architecture for Humanity
on tsunami-recovery solutions.
American Institute of Architects
The AIA is still developing a coordinated strategy of its
own. For now its website offers links to several aid organizations.
Society of Civil Engineers
ASCE's international and technical groups are working with
colleagues from several nations to coordinate a technical
response. Actions include producing a library of journal articles
related to response and mitigation to tsunami events available
for free download. ASCE has consulted with technical experts
in the field to advise on the possible deployment of a technical
assessment team, to respond to public and media inquiries,
and to coordinate the provision of technical resources if
needed. The organization has established communications with
its sister societies in the affected regions to determine
the needs of the local professional community as they lead
efforts to restore and rebuild the infrastructure.
Since 1942, more than 750,000 men and women have served as
Seabeesa division of the U.S. Navy that handles natural
disaster and combat relief construction. The Seabees have
aided the Kurdish refugees in Iraq, built schools, roads and
hospitals in Somalia and Haiti, built tent camps for Haitian
and Cuban refugees in Guantanamo Bay and offered emergency
support to victims of hurricanes, floods, fires, earthquakes
and volcanic eruptions worldwide.The Seabees are now aiding
disaster victims of the recent Tsunami crisis.